This a short game where you spank the heck out of a dude and learn about how BDSM communities attempt to formalize consent / caring. I was really interested in how we can make games about intimacy without a "kindness coins = sex cutscene" trope, and how we can use expressive gestures to roleplay / think about pain and intimacy. (For the record, I don't think my game gets it right, and it has a lot of flaws... this stuff is hard to design!)
full text here: http://www.blog.radiator.debacle.us/2014/12/notes-on-sex-consent-and-intimacy-in.html
You can imagine Hurt Me Plenty with its realistic representational graphics as a critique of the sex in contemporary Western video games with similar graphics, such as in Bioware RPG games (Mass Effects, Dragon Ages) which regularly feature "romance" storylines that climax in a cutscene of two virtual dolls glaring at each other for a few seconds, with cold unfeeling eyes devoid of human warmth, before tastefully fading to black. (My game hides your partner's face as much as possible.)
These kinds of representations are dangerous more for their structural properties: players understand these romances as puzzles to be solved where sex is the reward -- and the idea that sex is a puzzle reward feeds directly into a pick-up artist (PUA) culture built on manipulation and perceived entitlement to bodies. This is essentially the "kindness coins" critique, that the logic of training players to expect sex, based on a series of so-called strategic actions, is super gross and perpetuates damaging ways of thinking about relationships.
Instead, sex must be more than a node, it should be simulated as a complex system in itself. Sex must not be some sort of reward or foregone conclusion. What if we represented sex in games as an on-going process? What if we actually did sex?
Robert Yang is an indie game developer, academic, and writer, based in New York City. He regularly teaches game development and design within NYU Game Center at New York University, IDM at NYU Poly School of Engineering, and MFADT at Parsons the New School for Design.
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